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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 31, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 53
Peter Hook tries to keep Joy Division flame alive
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Peter Hook tries to keep Joy Division flame alive

by Jessica Price - SGN A&E Writer

Peter Hook and The Light
December 7
The Showbox at the Market


Seeing legendary bands without their original frontmen can be anticlimactic at best - at worst, it feels like a deceptive maneuver. Case in point: It was impossible to buy into The Doors touring without Jim Morrison (The Cult's Ian Astbury tried his hardest); Echo & the Bunnymen without Ian McCulloch was sacrilege. Yet legendary bass guitarist Peter Hook has ignored those that tried in vain before him, and rallied a touring band (The Light) as self-proclaimed keeper of the Joy Division flame. Frontman Ian Curtis prematurely ended Joy Division's fledging career with his suicide 30 years ago.

Since then, Joy Division bassist Peter Hook has had plenty to keep him busy - his signature bass sound metamorphosed into New Order and forever changed the way people play; New Order achieved worldwide commercial success at their peak. Hook went on to launch some not-so-credible side projects, most of which sounded like poor man's New Order rip-offs (Revenge) and currently he's performing Unknown Pleasures in its entirety with Joy Division stand-ins (The Light).

The show on December 7 wasn't bad, exactly - they could play, and Hook's son did an admirable job on bass while his father tackled vocals and guitar. A few pre-Unknown Pleasures tracks were promising (mainly due to their faster pace), and there were moments of transcendence for mega-fans ('Love Will Tear Us Apart' and 'Ceremony'). Mostly, though, it just felt odd.

Ian Curtis wasn't a replaceable singer. Filling in for someone that was an integral part of a band's essence and chemistry is a tall order. Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures has a depth of feeling that can't be crystallized or reproduced without losing a part of what made it perfect at that point in time. A persona can't be captured by anyone with the assumption that a front man is simply a vehicle for vocals. Posturing, pointing, arena-rock affectations weren't Joy Division's style, although they seem to be very much Peter Hook's. Sure, I get it: most of us didn't see Joy Division at all, so a fairly straightforward presentation of Unknown Pleasures is second-best, right? Most fans walked away pleased; a few (including me) left feeling like suckers.

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